Friday, November 25, 2011

Harper and Co. butches up military

For me, this American style chest thumping is embarrassing.

The federal government paid tribute to its role in the Libya campaign Thursday with a flashy display of military might on Parliament Hill, a ceremony that some observers viewed as a way of declaring Canada's more muscular role on the global stage.

The celebratory event, which was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay as well as a host of military officials, included a flypast by CF-18 fighter jets, a 21-gun salute and the awarding of a Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division) to Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian air force general who commanded the NATO mission in Libya.

Some saw it as a conventional victory parade. "It is a celebration of sorts, there's no question, but it's within military tradition," said Michel Drapeau, a professor of military law at the University of Ottawa, who pointed to similar victory parades held in Canada for V-Day and the Korean War.

But others remarked on how out-of-character the ceremony seemed for a country that for decades has tended to play down its military. Stephen Clarkson, a University of Toronto professor with an expertise in Canadian foreign policy, views the ceremony as an exercise in "self-glorification."

Either way, the spectacle left little doubt that Harper is putting increased emphasis on the role of Canada's military in international affairs.

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